The Islamic Opportunities of Bible Translation

Nile Green

in Terrains of Exchange

Published in print February 2015 | ISBN: 9780190222536
Published online May 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780190247430 | DOI:
The Islamic Opportunities of Bible Translation

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This chapter focuses on language-learning and language-exchange as means for the transfer of skills between Christian and Muslim religious entrepreneurs. It uses a case study of Scottish and German missionary firms operating on the Muslim fringes of the Russian Czarist Empire around the Caspian Sea and Caucasus mountains. By drawing on missionary archives, the chapter shows how language and translation skills were transmitted to various individual Muslims as an unintended side-effect of the attempt to “outsource” the expensive work of translating the Bible into the many Muslim languages of the Russian and British empires. After showing in detail how these language skills were transferred to Muslim hands, the chapter follows the careers of a variety of Tatar, Iranian and Indian Muslims who made use of these adopted skills in their subsequent careers as far away as London and Calcutta. In this way, the chapter demonstrates how the dynamics of religious exchange were able to empower individual Muslims and Christians as they made their way through the culturally cross-fertilized domains of global empires in the mid-nineteenth century.

Keywords: Islam; Christianity; Orientalism; missionaries; Iran; Russia; Caucasus; empire; religion; translation

Chapter.  13830 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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